Governor: 2012 had a spirit of cooperation and collaboration

Utah Legislature's quiet session punctuated with shouts of states' rights

Published: Friday, March 9 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

State lawmakers took aim at local governments in several areas, including electronic billboard regulations, automobile idling ordinances, "good landlord" programs and creating historical districts.

Local officials, particularly in Salt Lake City, complained of meddling, but legislators often reminded them cities and counties are political subdivisions of the state and therefore "subservient" to it. Compromises were worked out in a couple of those measures to allow municipalities to maintain some control.

People seeking to incorporate cities will have a steeper challenge under a bill passed Thursday evening. The legislation allows incorporators to work jointly with a county to select a consultant to conduct a feasibility study, but it increases the requirements for collecting signatures for putting the matter to a vote of residents.

Meanwhile, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, took on what he describes as "the most divisive" issue of the 2011 Legislative session: an attempt to drastically alter the state Government Records Access and Management Act.

Members of the public, media and special interest groups rose up in opposition, resulting in the bill's repeal. Gov. Gary Herbert and Republican legislative leaders appointed a working group to discuss ways to improve the act.

Their work helped shape HB177, which requires the development of an online training course to be completed yearly by government records officers. It also grants rulemaking authority to the Division of Archives and Records Service and creates the position of ombudsman.

It also establishes, Bramble said, "that what is private should be private and that which is public should be made available to the public."

The end result, he said, was a stronger, more transparent statute.

In a touching moment on the Senate floor, President Waddoups' daughter Wendi recognized her father's long service to the state of Utah, presenting him a ceramic beehive filled with Bit-O-Honey candy and personal notes from family members, including his grandchildren.

Throughout the legislative session, Waddoups has presented honey bee lapel pins to honor Senate guests and dignitaries.

Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, took a moment to recognize Waddoups as well.

"You've sat in that chair for four years. You replaced me. You did more than that. You added value to that chair."

Email: romboy@desnews.com; marjorie@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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